Callous burglars tricked their way into home of 94-year-old dementia sufferer

James Pearson
James Pearson

TWO callous burglars went tricked their way into the home of a 94-year-old dementia sufferer and took bank cards they later used to steal £1,600.

Repeat burglar James Pearson, 35, and Anthony Smithson, 30, sneaked inside the confused man’s Hartlepool home after knocking on doors pretending to be offering gardening work.

They rifled through the house while the man’s partner, who is in her 80s, was out and stole a wallet containing several bank and credit cards.

Over the next five days the pair used the cards seven times to fleece the couple of £1,600 of their savings.

Smithson and Pearson were seen knocking on doors in the Clavering area of town offering to do gardening work.

A neighbour of the victims saw them climb over the couple’s gate and disappear from view, before they were seen leaving the house around 20 minutes later.

Rachel Masters, prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court, said: “When the female victim returned home she was told by her partner that two men had attended the property and gone inside, but he couldn’t remember why.”

She discovered a wallet containing the bank cards was missing after being alerted about the withdrawals.

Pearson and Smithson admitted burglary and three counts of theft committed between April 16 and 22.

Miss Masters added: “Given the man’s state of health there is an element in this case of deliberate targeting.

“It seems the defendants have attended the area with the purpose of carrying out this crime which would suggest a degree of planning.”

Jim Withyman, mitigating for Pearson, said: “He didn’t fully appreciate the condition of the victim, but does offer his apologies.”

Richard Herrmann, mitigating for Smithson, said: “This offence was callous and manipulative, but there is nothing to suggest this was anything other than a one off.”

Pearson, of Wharton Terrace, Hartlepool, who has numerous burglaries on his record, was jailed for four years.

Smithson, 30, of Saltholme Close, Middlesbrough, got 21 months’ prison.

Judge Tony Briggs said: “Those who steal from the elderly and disadvantaged must expect custodial sentences.

“The courts must send out a clear message that those who prey on the vulnerable do so at their peril and sentences of immediate prison are inevitable.”